"Chandal" redirects here. For the town in Bangladesh, see Chandal, Bangladesh
Chandal, Bangladesh
Chandal is a town in Barisal Division, Bangladesh. It is located at 23°10'0N 91°0'0E with an altitude of 9 metres .-References:Chandal is a village under the CHITOSHI Union at Shahrasti Upogela and Chandpur District,CHITTAGONG DIVISION....


Chandala (Devanagari: चंडाल) is a Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 word for someone who deals with disposal of corpses, and is a Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 lower caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

, formerly considered untouchables
Untouchability is the social practice of ostracizing a minority group by segregating them from the mainstream by social custom or legal mandate. The excluded group could be one that did not accept the norms of the excluding group and historically included foreigners, nomadic tribes, law-breakers...

. Currently it is a term used specifically in Indo-Aryan
Indo-Aryan languages
The Indo-Aryan languages constitutes a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family...

 speaking regions of India. Sandala has become a swear word in the colloquial usage of the Tamil language
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

. Chandal is a general derogatory slur used to refer to a filthy, mean or low person in North India
North India
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...


Usage of the term is noted in ancient and medieval literature of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, South India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

, and in Indo-China. Chandala as a term of despised caste was used in Dravidian
Dravidian languages
The Dravidian language family includes approximately 85 genetically related languages, spoken by about 217 million people. They are mainly spoken in southern India and parts of eastern and central India as well as in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, and...

-speaking South India and among the Sinhala
Sinhalese people
The Sinhalese are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group,forming the majority of Sri Lanka,constituting 74% of the Sri Lankan population.They number approximately 15 million worldwide.The Sinhalese identity is based on language, heritage and religion. The Sinhalese speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language and the...

 of Sri Lanka.

The Chandalas are not a single tribe with a common defining ancestry, and in fact many Dalit groups in north India are referred to as Chandalas, and the term is used in a general way to denote any similar caste as well. Chandalas reside in Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

, Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...

, Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

  and Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

. Chandalas predate the final versions of the Mahabharata and the Manu Smriti, but there are groups with much more recent origin. For example, the Namashustras, a fishing and agricultural community in Bengal, and possibly of aboriginal Bihari origin, was made outcaste in the 11th or 12th century due to some conflict with the kings of the Sen dynasty, and the word 'Chandala' came to be applied to them. The word is now sometimes also applied to the Dom
- People :* Dom people, an ethnic group in the Middle East* Doms, people of indigenous origin found in the Indian state of West Bengal* Domba or Dom, an ethnic group of India...

 or Domba
The Domba or Dom are an ethnic or social group, or groups, scattered across India. They are usually segregated from the mainstream community as outcastes.The Domba are sometimes also called "Chandala". Both terms also came to be used in the sense of "outcaste" in general...


In literature

According to the ancient law code, the Manu-smṛti, this class originated from the union of a Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 (the highest class within the varṇa, or four-class system) woman and a Śūdra (the lowest class) man. The term 'Chandala' was also used in the Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

, the religious epic, as well as in the Chandogya Upanishad: "Now people here whose conduct is good can expect to quickly attain a pleasant birth, like that of a Brahmin, the Ksatriya, or the Vaisya. But people of evil conduct can expect to enter a foul womb, like that of a dog, a pig, or a Chandala".

In the early Vedic literature such as the Smritis (ancient religious scriptures) the word Antyajas is used for the untouchable castes.

Fa Xian, a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim who recorded his visit to India in the early 4th century C.E., noted that Chandalas were segregated from the mainstream society. Traditionally, Chandalas were considered to be beyond the pale of the varna or caste system. They were considered as Panchama (the Fifth caste) and thus beyond the fourfold division of people, and outcastes. Their situation was similar to that of the Roma and Cagot people in Europe.

Usage elsewhere

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

 described the Jewish and Christian religions with the term Chandala ("Tschandala
Tschandala is a term Friedrich Nietzsche borrowed from the Indian caste system, where a Tschandala is a member of the lowest social class...

") in his works The Antichrist
The Antichrist (book)
The Antichrist is a book by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, originally published in 1895. Although it was written in 1888, its controversial content made Franz Overbeck and Heinrich Köselitz delay its publication, along with Ecce Homo...

 and The Twilight of the Idols. Nietzsche's use of this term was influenced by the French writer Louis Jacolliot
Louis Jacolliot
Louis Jacolliot was a French barrister, colonial judge, author and lecturer.Born in Charolles, Saône-et-Loire, he lived several years in Tahiti and India during the period 1865-1869....

, and his work Les législateurs religieux, Manou, Moïse, Mahomet. Nietzsche also claimed that every great spirit has experienced, "as one stage in his development", the stigma of being a Chandala; not because others consider him this way, but because he feels and senses within himself a profound schism and alienation from the world.

Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan misspells the word as "Chancalas" throughout the text in her 1811 sentimental novel
Sentimental novel
The sentimental novel or the novel of sensibility is an 18th century literary genre which celebrates the emotional and intellectual concepts of sentiment, sentimentalism, and sensibility...

 The Missionary: An Indian Tale
The Missionary: An Indian Tale
The Missionary: An Indian Tale is a sentimental romance novel by Irish author Sydney Owenson .-External links:* Google book...


External links

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